The Concord Book Discussion meets once on the first Tuesday of the month. Registration is requested. For information or to register, contact Kris Benshoff at 704-920-2053.
The linked stories that make up this dynamic debut are spare in their approach but profoundly observant. One painful narrative thread follows a mother as she sends her daughter off with Operation Babylift, an initiative launched in Vietnam in the mid-1970s to rescue 2,000 babies from a crumbling Saigon. Another traces the tensions between bookish Mai and hoodlumesque Kim, both Operation Babylift orphans living in L.A., now in their teens. Mai studies very hard, while Kim is a thief and a vicarious member of an Asian gang who inadvertently harms someone she wouldn't have purposefully targeted. These stories read quickly, and yet the deliberateness of their word choice and their motion make it evident that they've been planned very carefully, down to the last detail. Phan plays up the intrinsic toughness of L.A and the chaos of present-day and war-era Vietnam to moving effect in this unassuming but hard-edged psychological travelogue, which memorably shows the ways humans bob and weave against ever-present alienation.
Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time—and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya’s life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother’s life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.
Your Choice of The Buddha in the Attic by Otsuka or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Spark.
Easter Island is the mysterious backdrop that connects the lives of two remarkable women. Elsa Pendleton is an Edwardian Englishwoman, forced into a marriage of convenience. The other is American botanist Greer Faraday, recently widowed and troubled by unhappy memories. As Greer is forced to confront some unwelcome truths, her story becomes irresistibly entwined with Elsa's.